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An American Crime (2007)

7.4
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Ratings: 7.4/10 from 21,537 users  
Reviews: 110 user | 52 critic

The true story of suburban housewife Gertrude Baniszewski, who kept a teenage girl locked in the basement of her Indiana home during the 1960s.

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Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Shirley Baniszewski (as Hannah Leigh Dworkin)
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Reverend Bill Collier
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Marie Baniszewski
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Hope Orbach
Patricia Place ...
Mrs. Doyle
Calvin Keet ...
Mr. Doyle
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Storyline

Based on a true story that shocked the nation in 1965, the film recounts one of the most shocking crimes ever committed against a single victim. Sylvia and Jennie Fae Likens, the two daughters of traveling carnival workers are left for an extended stay at the Indianapolis home of single mother Gertrude Baniszewski and her six children. Times are tough, and Gertrude's financial needs cause her to make this arrangement before realizing how the burden will push her unstable nature to a breaking point. What transpires in the next three months is both riveting and horrific, leaving one child dead and the rest scarred for life. Written by alfiehitchie

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The true story of a shocking crime and a secret that wouldn't keep. See more »

Genres:

Biography | Crime | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong and disturbing depiction of child abuse and torture | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

7 December 2007 (Sweden)  »

Also Known As:

The Basement  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office

Budget:

$2,000,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The real life daughter, Paula Baniszewski, was released from prison and changed her name. She ended up getting a job as a guidance counselor aide in an Iowa school and worked there for 14 years before anyone found out about her real past. She was immediately fired. See more »

Goofs

In the scene where Gertrude and Ricky are smoking together, Gertrude says, "You ain't old enough for smoke". In 1965, it was legal for minors to smoke as there was no legal smoking age. See more »

Quotes

Sylvia Likens: [after they've been lashed, Sylvia sits down next to Jenny, hoping to comfort her] Come on, Jenny. It's not like we've never had a spanking before.
[Sylvia puts her hand on her sister's shoulder]
Sylvia Likens: That check's gonna come along, I swear.
[When Jenny doesn't answer, Sylvia puts her lips to her sister's head and strokes her hair]
See more »

Crazy Credits

The final credit states "Sylvia Likens, 1949-1965". See more »

Connections

Referenced in The 66th Annual Golden Globe Awards (2009) See more »

Soundtracks

96 Tears
Written by Rudy Martinez
Performed by ? and The Mysterians
Courtesy of ABKCO Music & Records, Inc.
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
The Girl Next Door: An American Crime
16 September 2008 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

First off to anyone that has, will or wants to see this film I would also suggest The Girl Next Door, which is based on the same story but takes liberties as this film does. It is very interesting to see the differences between the two interpretations of the same events. The other interesting thing is, in my opinion these movies are perfect if you put them together, everything one does wrong the other does right and visa versa. An American Crime was great in its more detailed set up to these events along with it's amazing court room scenes that added a much need closer element that The Girl Next Door was desperately lacking. On the other hand The girl Next Door was much better at visualizing the actual events, don't get me wrong what happened to this girl was horrible, but in An American Crime it was just not portrayed as well by Ellen Page. I know that sounds weird for me to say too, but I assume that it was either the directors choice or an attempt at realism, but Ellen Page's character just shut down. Were as in The Girl Next Door, we saw more of a fighter in Blythe Auffarth's portrayal of the same character, someone who was changed by the experience. Also The Girl Next Door did not shy away from the violence as An American Crime did, now for some I'm sure that is a blessing, because I have heard of several people who could not finish watching The Girl Next Door for that very reason, and because these situations all involved young kids it is completely understandable. My overall point is that together these two films would make a wonderful film, but definitely not a film for everyone. Both films still do leave me wondering, what exactly did happen, exactly, so many liberties have been taken that some of the facts are a little fuzzy.


17 of 23 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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The most evil of them all fleurus-d-864-162834
The Baniszewski kids should be haunted by Sylvia's face forever davidjrichardson73
Paula Baniszewski in Iowa metalkyle-595-718974
The Dream Sequence tromphisromphis
Compared to The Girl Nextdoor chelsi-boswell
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